SOCORRO, N.M., December 6, 2001 -- Fred M. Phillips, professor of hydrology at New Mexico Tech, was named this year's recipient of the O. E. Meinzer Award at the recently held Geological Society of America (GSA) annual convention in Boston, marking the fourth time a New Mexico Tech hydrology professor has received the prestigious prize.
The Meinzer Award is the highest honor in the field of hydrogeology in the nation. It is given annually by the GSA's Hydrogeology Division to an author of published research of distinction, which has advanced the science of hydrogeology or closely related fields, such as groundwater hydraulics.
In particular, Phillips was recognized for five pioneering papers which focused on the use of isotopic tracers in hydrology, especially the development and application of chlorine-36 isotopic techniques to arid region hydrology and to determining the flow rates of ground water in aquifers. Techniques he developed have proved important in the evaluation of both high- level and low-level proposed nuclear waste disposal sites.
With over 80 publications to his credit, Phillips is an active member of a variety of professional organizations, committees, and panels.
In addition to his recent award, Phillips received the Geochemical Society's F. W. Clarke Medal in 1988; the New Mexico Eminent Scholar Award in 1989; the D. Foster Lectureship in 1991; the Birdsall Lectureship in 1994; and the New Mexico Tech Distinguished Researcher Award in 1994. He also was named a Fellow of the GSA in 1996.
Phillips has been with the New Mexico Tech hydrology program, in the university's Earth and environmental science department, since 1981.
The O. E. Meinzer Award, which was established by the GSA in 1963, is named for Oscar Edward Meinzer (1876-1948), whom hydrologists consider "the father of modern groundwater hydrology" in North America.
The Meinzer Award includes a "traveling trophy," which consists of a year-long possession of a large silver Revere bowl, engraved with the names of former award winners, along with a smaller, "keeper" version of the bowl inscribed solely with Phillips's name.
Phillips's recent commendation marks the fourth time a New Mexico Tech hydrologist has been honored with the Meinzer Award: John L. Wilson, chair of Tech's Earth and Environmental Science Department, was the award winner in 1996; and former Tech faculty members Mahdi Hantush (in 1968) and Lynn Gelhar (in 1987) both previously were named recipients of the award for research papers published while they taught at the state-supported research university.